Posted on 12/15/2016

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti today took another step toward curbing L.A.’s housing affordability crisis, signing into law the Tenant Buyout Ordinance — a key addition to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), which is designed to protect Angelenos from runaway rents and displacement from their neighborhoods.

Half of L.A. families live in an apartment covered by the RSO. The ordinance will strengthen renters’ rights by ensuring that landlords inform residents of their relocation rights in the event of a tenant buyout. Previously, tenants could be offered a lump sum to vacate units, without a formal process to educate them about additional sums for relocation assistance to which they may have been entitled.

The new ordinance requires landlords to file buyout agreements with the City, so that staff can better monitor the process. It also permits renters to withdraw from the buyout agreement within 30 days.

“Every tenant in Los Angeles should understand their rights, especially in a tight housing market, and landlords should know their responsibilities,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The RSO is the most powerful tool we have to keep families and neighborhoods together, and this ordinance will help protect vulnerable populations — like senior citizens and immigrants — from displacement. As we work to build new affordable housing, we also must make sure that residents know about protections that are already in place.”

“As Chair of the Housing Committee, I am proud to add another layer of protection for tenants with the Tenant Buyout Notification Program amendment to the City's Rent Stabilization Ordinance,” said Housing Committee Chair Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who was key in ensuring the ordinance’s passage. “This program requires landlords to inform tenants of their RSO rights before executing a buyout agreement, giving them full disclosure of their rights and protections under the RSO.”

"As I’ve been dealing with a crisis in my district where more than 150 seniors are threatened with evictions, it is clear that it is more important than ever that all tenants fully understand their rights when their landlord wants to move them out of their apartments," said Housing Committee Vice-Chair Councilmember Paul Koretz.

"The newly adopted Tenant Buyout Ordinance is an important new tool in our efforts to ensure that tenants in Rent-Stabilized (RSO) buildings are fully informed of their rights to remain in their homes and are not coerced into accepting buy-out or ‘cash for keys’ offers,” said Rushmore Cervantes, General Manager of the Housing and Community Investment Development of the City of Los Angeles. “In a time when affordable housing units are scarce, the new ordinance is designed to ensure that tenants can make informed decisions and have the opportunity to seek advice before voluntarily relinquishing their rent-stabilized unit."

The new ordinance builds upon Mayor Garcetti’s comprehensive plan to strengthen the RSO, which includes strategies to increase awareness of renters’ rights and better enforce existing regulations. Earlier this year, Mayor Garcetti launched an RSO awareness campaign, “Home for Renters.” The campaign reaches out to L.A.’s most vulnerable neighborhoods with thousands of public transit advertisements, door-hangers, informational pamphlets, and online resources that make detailed information about the RSO accessible to both tenants and landlords. The effort was developed by the Housing and Community Investment Department of Los Angeles (HCIDLA) in partnership with Mayor Garcetti’s Innovation Team, which focuses on data-driven projects, and is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Last year, Mayor Garcetti also announced a new online property database, which helps the public easily identify properties that are are subject to the RSO. The City Council and HCIDLA are also advancing a new city-wide rent registry, which will help the City proactively enforce regulations on allowable rent increases. To stem the loss of RSO units as the City expands its housing stock, the City is also implementing new State law that requires the replacement of affordable RSO units in new developments.  

While the City remains on track to meet Mayor Garcetti’s goal to build 100,000 new housing units by 2021, the Mayor is advancing additional policies to ensure equitable growth in the City’s housing supply, and is  doubling down on the production and preservation of affordable housing developments dedicated to low-income Angelenos.